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He’s no (pick someone)
Re Why Doug Ford Is No Donald Trump (March 13): John Ibbitson writes that Doug Ford is no Donald Trump, and that he’s not quite Mike Harris either.
Mr. Ford may or may not show his true colours before the Ontario election – but he is sure to be the next premier so long as he remains no Kathleen Wynne.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary
Doug Ford is hardly Ontario’s first populist. From 1934 to 1942, Ontario’s premier was Liberal Mitch Hepburn, who railed against the elites. He held an auction of cabinet ministers’ official cars at Varsity Stadium and boarded up the lieutenant-governor’s mansion as gestures of reining in government spending. His policies were an erratic mix of progressive and regressive. He fought bitterly with then-Liberal prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, and sent in goons with clubs (who became known as Sons of Mitches) to attack strikers at GM in Oshawa.
When he was defeated by a big-tent Conservative Party led by George Drew, his party was destroyed, and the Conservatives passed the leadership from Drew to Leslie Frost to John Robarts to Bill Davis to Frank Miller over four decades. The Liberals did not return to power until 1985.
Hepburn’s populism and rhetoric won his party eight years in power, but led directly to decades in the wilderness in the face of the Conservatives’ bland, middle-of-the-road efficiency.
Michael Moore, Toronto
John Ibbitson’s closing line on the coming Ontario election – “this could be fun to watch” – is revealing and disappointing. We have the tragicomedy south of the border and decades of past government to guide us, but instead of comparing policies and examining ideas, election coverage tends toward the superficial (spectacle and outrage) and the easy (replaying “gotcha” moments and parsing polls).
This involves the futures of more than 13 million real people in Ontario. It’s not a spectator sport. And it’s no fun at all.
Jason Scott, Kanata, Ont.
Choosing a leader
Re No Way To Pick A Leader (editorial, March 13): The real problem with the leadership selection process is the voting by instant members, which gives the crown to the person who can sign up the most bodies. One cannot really say the Ontario PCs selected Doug Ford or Patrick Brown, because there’s no assurance the people who voted for them have any commitment to the party beyond voting for whoever signed them up. Parties would be wise to require an initiation period for new members – a year? – before allowing them to vote for a new leader.
William Hallett, Ottawa
As a long-time supporter of the PC Party, and someone who became a member for the purpose of voting in the leadership election, I am faced with a leader I did not support (that happens), but who I now am told didn’t get the most votes and didn’t win the most ridings. I’m expected to accept this as reasonable, fair and logical?
We laugh at how ridiculous the U.S. is with its electoral college, but look at the mess the PCs dreamed up! I sense this is the same sort of nonsense that will haunt us if we move toward PR, or some other convoluted way of electing governments where, through various electoral reforms, we’ll suffer through minorities with small, single-issue parties winning seats with nominal voter support.
Greg Ford, Barrie, Ont.
A few weeks ago, I joined the PC Party of Ontario. It’s the first Canadian political party to have me as a member. I sent in my fee with the intention of voting against Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney and Tanya Granic Allen. Note that I didn’t say I was voting “for” someone. Along with thousands of other would-be Tories, I never received any communication from the PCs and no instructions on voting. I complained but had no response. Doug Ford won by a few hundred votes. Not my fault!
Alan Mellors, Guelph, Ont.
Vanilla sticker shock
Re Vanilla Valuation (Folio, March 13): The vanilla crisis is a perfect example of world demand for a high-value specialty ingredient exceeding cultivated supply.
Nature wreaks havoc on the fragile production methods, and as a result, producers are seeing opportunity in more sustainable methods with less natural variability. The cannabis industry is snapping up greenhouse capacity for this reason. The specialty fragrances and flavours industry is moving to more controlled methods of biological production.
Rather than relying on outdoor cultivation of plants harvested for one valuable subcomponent, or relying on energy-intensive petroleum-based sources for such specialty chemicals, industry has recognized that producing natural, high-value ingredients is possible through fermentation, using yeast designed for that purpose.
This harnesses the power of biology through advanced manufacturing methods. Although this is a nascent area of work, researchers in Ontario have already produced yeast and algae that secrete natural vanilla.
Ihor Boszko, vice-president, Business Development, Ontario Genomics
Investment in rail
Re PM’s Supercluster Headache: Rail Bottlenecks (Report on Business, March 12): Canada’s private rail infrastructure is not suffering from “underinvestment.” Rail is one of Canada’s most capital-intensive industries. Railways invest an average of 20 per cent of their own revenues back into their networks each year. This year, Canada’s two Class 1 railways expect to spend more than $4.5-billion on capital expenditures in North America to ensure operations remain safe and efficient.
The short-term challenges facing the rail sector are not systemic. Railways are the backbone of Canada’s world-class supply chain, and our rail infrastructure is well-equipped to meet growing freight demands.
Economic regulation is not the answer. It discourages the supply chain from investing in capacity to efficiently move products across North America. Allowing market forces – not economic regulation – to lead is the best way to encourage increased investment, enhance railway productivity and ensure goods get to market.
Gérald Gauthier, acting president, Railway Association of Canada
Re Cities Find Creative Solutions To Dog-Poop Problems (March 13): I congratulate Waterloo, Ont., for tackling this so creatively and being environmentally responsible. The only problem I can see is how to persuade people to pick up after their dog in the first place, let alone put the bag in the right bin.
We pick up after our dog, but we also pick up after other people’s pets because we hate to see poop on the sidewalk and next to the children’s play park (just two examples). Perhaps each time someone puts a bag in the new bins, they could be automatically issued with a ticket that entitles them to a reward (free coffee and doughnut?). Just a thought …
Diana Bennett, Toronto